Tough love – according to the Cambridge Dictionary – is ‘the fact of deliberately not showing too much kindness to a person who has a problem so that the person will start to solve their own problem’.
Everyone – not just our kids – needs TOUGH LOVE now and again; especially writers.
Why? Keep reading to find out.
As writers, we’re fairly solitary creatures. We have to be motivated, determined and consistent. But sometimes we self-sabotage and let other things take priority over our writing. Beating ourselves up about this, especially if we have a dry spell (or even a drought) is easy. Realising we are self-sabotaging, however, pinpointing the catalyst behind it and easing our way out isn’t quite so simple.
Why do we self-sabotage our writing progress?
Default mode – quite simply, it’s our default mode. As with anything, many of us have the default mode of falling into questioning our writing abilities.
- Am I a good enough writer?
- Should I even bother trying to write a book?
- Is this really worth the effort?
- Am I wasting my time?
Lack of accountability – as I mentioned before, writers are solitary creatures. We work in isolation most of the time and therefore, without anyone to be accountable to (say, for example, a boss at work would question why you hadn’t written that article when the deadline was today) we can let things slide.
Overnight success can take years – we’ve all heard of those pop sensations who are apparently an ‘overnight success’ when in reality, you listen to an interview on the radio and learn that they trawled the pubs and clubs circuit for years, or they were buskers from the age of 14, or they’ve been recording songs in their bedroom and uploading them to YouTube for the past 10 years. As writers, we’re in a similar position. We may get paid the odd few pence or pounds for articles we’ve published on Medium (www.medium.com) or get invited as a guest blogger by a social media influencer or bask in the positive comments left on our blogs. But we need more.
That’s why all us writers (me included!) need some tough love. So if you’re ready for a good talking to, put your feet up, sit back and breathe it in!
Tough Love #1 – Rush your writing and pay the consequences
Writing is not a sprint. If you rush it, you’ll make mistakes, miss out the important bits (like a call to action, maybe?) and look like you don’t care.
Writing is a marathon. Take your time over that blog. It’s going to sit on your website forever and yes, you can go back and fix it or add to it. But what about that first impact it has on your blog visitors. What will be their reaction?
Writing is an art. You can’t just churn something out quickly and expect it to receive rave reviews. Write your article, your book, your blurb, your Amazon description and then sleep on it. Go back to it a day or two later. Don’t have a ‘THAT’LL DO’ attitude, because people can feel that in your energy, your words. And that’s not the message you want to emit, right?
Remember: quality over quantity every time.
Tough Love #2 – don’t be such a misery guts!
It’s so easy to fall into negativity default mode. But the trick is to catch yourself when you’re in full flow and flip those black thundery clouds into fat, fluffy white ones. Let me give you a simple example.
“Writing is soooo hard” could easily be flipped into “This book feels sooo hard to write at the moment so I’m going to break it down into small bite-sized goals. I’m going to write 500 words of my book today and I’m going to give it 100% effort. It will be easy.” Way better energy, isn’t it?
Remember: if it was easy, everyone would be a writer.
Tough Love #3 – half-assed gestures get you nowhere
Over the years, I’ve been a bit of a course collector (ok, hoarder, addict, choose your own synonym). And it’s only after noting how many half-completed courses I have on my laptop that I had my epiphany. If I’d worked through each course by now, I’d be a multi-talented millionaire, working four hours a week, writing and publishing elevnty-billion books a year.
Maybe you need to hear this too – buying the course/reading the book is only step one. Yes, it’s great that you want to improve your skills to become a better writer/business owner/self-publisher or even sell more books. But that’s just the start. The second step is for you to be pro-active, read the content, understand, implement and make things work. Just because you’ve bought the programme, doesn’t mean you’ll get the results after making your first flaky attempt. Nor does it mean you can pick out the bits you think are relevant and ignore the rest … and still expect results. You have to actually commit, move your know-it-all ego to one side and learn those additional skills to help you improve your dialogue-writing/self-publishing on Kindle/book marketing skills.
Remember: by all means invest in your writing future but don’t leave them untouched
Tough Love #4 – you get what you put out there
I’ll let you into a secret here. I’m a big believer in the Law of Attraction and that you get what you put out there. So if you’re sat at your desk, making half-assed attempts, rushing your writing and being a misery guts, guess what? The universe will send it all back to you, wrapped in a big, fat bow of negativity … and then some. Don’t sit complaining that your writing’s too hard, you’ve got better things to do, writing’s a treat and not a necessity, you’re not even that good anyway … blah, blah, blah. Show the universe you’re ready, willing and loving being a writer. Write down on a sticky note: ‘Words and ideas flow easily to me’ and every time you feel a black thought creep in, take a deep breath and repeat that affirmation: ‘Words and ideas flow easily to me’ until you believe it.
Remember: the universe sees our actions, hears our words (even if they’re only in our head) and sends us more of the same
Tough Love #5 – give up or move on: you have a choice
You could convince yourself that, despite your passion, writing’s not your forte. You could get back into the drought mode (instead of freewriting or journaling your way out of it) and write nothing for weeks or months on end. But I can guarantee if writing is in your bones, you will return to it. And how much time will you have wasted by giving up temporarily?! My advice here is that if you’re stuck or have writer’s block or a severe case of the mind monkeys (check out my article here if you don’t know about mind monkeys and how much they lie!) https://michelleemerson.co.uk/dont-believe-the-mind-monkeys/ then move on. Don’t give up. Switch your subject matter instead. If you’re writing a chapter for your book and it’s just not working, move onto something else – researching, brainstorming, your blurb, something different altogether – but don’t take this little block as a sign that you’re a rubbish writer. Sometimes you just need space from your current project to rediscover your passion for it.
Remember: if writing is in your bones, stepping away from it is only ever temporary so why waste time?
Your Tough Love Recap
We all need tough love sometimes, whether it’s a writers, parents, siblings, partners, business owners or children. And yes, it can hurt, but holding up that mirror to ourselves makes us see things so much better.
Sometimes we need a reminder some inspiration when we’re in a tricky spot (https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/best-inspirational-quotes-tough-times-positive-motivation-uplifting-a9455181.html). We need to remember that writing is an ongoing adventure, a lifelong learning curve, a craft that improves with practice.
So don’t beat yourself and/or read too much into today’s wobble. Give yourself some space, work on something else, put your heart and soul into everything you create (even if it’s just a social media post).
Most of all, remember why you write. And then, even in your trickiest times, you’ll see that all the wobbles, setbacks, challenges are all learning curves. They all appear to help us move onto the next step. Or give us a realisation that we are, in fact, serious writers and more than capable of success if we can just step out of our own self-sabotaging way.
So stop whining, for Pete’s sake and JUST WRITE! 🙂
Want to join my writing community so you don’t feel quite so alone?
It would be great to welcome you.
The Writer’s Sanctuary is my free private Facebook Group where we cheer each other on, hold ourselves accountable, share our wobbles as well as our book links, and get to hang out with other like-minded people who have the same writing ups and downs as us.
Pop over and take a look.